If you kayak, chances are, you’ve heard about Greenland-style paddles – those rowing poles that use narrow blades in favor of much broader shapes, which put much less strain on the body, making them ideal for longer treks across the water. In case you haven’t, you’ll definitely want to try them, as they can really cut down on the fatigue that sets in after performing hundreds upon hundreds of strokes. The GearLab Outdoors Malik offers an attractive option for beginners.
The entry-level model in the outfit’s roster of Greenland-style paddles, the bladed pole combines the traditional long, slim shape with a minimalist build that leaves it both lightweight and highly affordable. Suffice to say, if you’re looking to get into the ancient Inuit paddling style, this offers one of the lower barriers to entry, making it a good learning paddle, apart from being functional enough to serve as your regular rowing accessory.
The GearLab Outdoors Malik take on the same general characteristics as the outfit’s other Greenland-style paddles. That is, it’s painstakingly symmetrical, with a shape that gradually flattens and widens as you get to the business end, requiring less force to use in the water, leading to greater efficiency and faster cadence, even during windier days. Because of the lower effort required to use it, the paddle is gentler on joints and muscles, making it possible to stay in the water for longer periods without succumbing to fatigue. Of course, you can always just install pedals on your kayak, but that’s another story for another day.
Unlike the traditional Inuit paddle, though, it ditches the wood-carved construction, instead relying on modern materials for lighter weight, easier maintenance, and better durability. Specifically, the paddle uses polypropylene plastic for the blade and fiberglass for the shaft, both of which should hold up to anything the outdoors can offer, all while being so light, you’ll be able to wield them with very little effort. In case you want an even lighter and more durable build, they also offer the shaft in a carbon fiber variant, albeit at a slightly higher price point than the base unit.
The GearLab Outdoors Malik can break apart in two pieces, making it a whole lot easier to transport and store, whether in the car or at home, with a carbon fiber button release enabling quick disassembly as needed. It uses titanium hardware all throughout, so every part of the paddle should hold up to the demands of the water, while the blade uses swappable ProTek tips (makes them easy to replace when they wear out) and D-joint grips.
Are Greenland-style paddles better than regular European-style paddles? Not necessarily. While they do require less effort during rowing, while being excellent at performing rolls, they lack the sheer power of those wider blades, which remain superior for sharp turns and quick bursts of speeds. Basically, if you’re out for a day of relaxed paddling without the likelihood of any sharp turns in the horizon, these slim and narrow paddles just might be the more sensible option.
The GearLab Outdoors Malik is available now, priced at $188 for the fiberglass shaft and $238 for the carbon fiber variant.